The debris clogged water intakes at the plants, which sit along with the Hope Creek reactor on Salem County’s Artificial Island, near where the Delaware River meets the DelawareBay, reducing the amount of water being drawn in to the two Salem reactors.
The two plants draw in and return to the Delaware River three billion gallons of cooling water per day.
With the screens over their water intakes from the river becoming clogged with debris, the amount of water being drawn in was reduced thus resulting in the need to cut power output at the two pants.
The three plants at Artificial Island make up the second largest commercial nuclear complex in the United States.
The reactors, both PWRs, were built by Westinghouse, and began commercial operation in 1977 (Unit 1) and 1981 (Unit 2).
The two-unit plant has a capacity of 2,275 MWe. Unit 1 is licensed to operate until August 13, 2036 and Unit 2 is licensed to operate until April 18, 2040.
In 2009, PSEG applied for 20-year license renewals for both units, which were approved by the NRC in 2011.
Safety Issues at Salem
The New York Times has reported that, in the 1990s, the Salem reactors were shut down for two years because of maintenance problems.
Consultants found several difficulties, including a leaky generator, unreliable controls on a reactor, and workers who feared that reporting problems would lead to retaliation.
In 2004, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission took on additional oversight of the Salem plants and increased the monitoring of them.
An extensive investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the subsequent review by hired consultants have found many minor problems, such as lack of routine maintenance and low morale among personnel, but declared the plant safe.
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